80 JULY 2014
“He won the British F3 Championship,
graduated to World Series by Renault,
then very nearly won that, too. Certainly,
the testing he did for RBR was
enlightening. In the F1 young driver tests
he was outstanding, first in Jerez in 2009,
and even more so in Abu Dhabi a year
later. It was obvious he was extremely
quick. What he lacked was race experience.
“We decided at the end of 2011 that,
HEAD TO HEAD
with all respect to Sebastien Buemi and
Jaime Alguersuari, they weren’t contenders
for RBR seats. Dietrich [Mateschitz, Red Bull
founder] made the decision to place Daniel
and Jean-Eric at Toro Rosso. Over the two
seasons we were able to gauge their
development, Daniel stood out. Obviously,
other candidates were out there beyond
the Red Bull program, but we had
confidence he was the right guy for RBR.”
The hours Ricciardo spent in RBR’s
simulator provided plenty of additional
information to base a decision on.
“It was crucial,” says Horner. “It gave us
the opportunity to work very closely with
him and understand in our environment
how he was performing. The final litmus test
was the Silverstone test last July. It made
sense on merit for him to get the seat.”
But Horner concedes that there were
question marks over what Ricciardo could
deliver running wheel-to-wheel with the
biggest names in the business at the
superheated sharp end of the grid.
“We knew he was fast and we knew he
could race well; I think our slight doubt was
Ricciardo’s stats from the first seven GPs of
2014 are impressive. Not included is his
second place finish in Australia, from which he
was disqualified for exceeding fuel flow limits.
3* | 1
1 | 0
3.429 | 6.571
5.167* | 8.429
DAnIEl RICCIARDO SEBASTIAn VETTEl
Not including P2 in Australia, from which he was subsequently disqualified.
“We knew he was fast and
could race well; our slight
doubt was the pressure of
being in a frontrunning team”
the pressure of being in a front-running
team, which is very different from the
midfield. Certainly he allayed all of that in
the first race in Australia, finishing on the
podium, and he’s backed it up since then
with some very, very convincing drives.
“I think our early doubt was whether
he was an attacking driver. But from his
performance in Malaysia, where he was
passing cars on the outside, he’s
demonstrated he can race with the best of
them. Any doubts we had were put to rest
seeing how he drove in those early races.”
Certainly, moving to a team he already
knew well was a lot easier for Ricciardo.
But what’s been remarkable about his
performance is the way he’s overshadowed
Vettel – but without generating any of the
tensions that characterized the German’s
uneasy relationship with Webber.
“He’s done a great job,” says Horner.
“And it’s great for Sebastian to have that
pressure, too. He wants that competition
because, ultimately, it gets more out of him.
It’s a healthy relationship. There’s genuine
respect and friendship between them.
“Mark and Sebastian were very different
people at very different points in their
careers. Dan and Seb are far closer in age,
with common interests and so on. There’s
no tension, and I think that’s healthy for
the team, to be honest with you.”
So what of Vettel? He wasn’t helped by
early retirements in Australia and Monaco,
or by problems that have cost him vital
Vettel in Montreal.
when the Mercedes
duo floundered, it was
the former who was
best placed to take
advantage and score a
maiden grand prix
win. (ABOVE RIGHT)
The 24-year-old has
been flexing his
muscles since being
given his opportunity
with Red Bull Racing.